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The New Drink Tax At Bellagio

By Chuckmonster on Wednesday, 6th October 2010 12:20am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 15


In a move to cut costs and/or boost the bottom line, a number of Bellagio's bars have upped the price of drinks... no, not by actually changing the prices, but by tacking on sales tax that used to be rolled into the price.

As customary, The Admiral made a pitstop at Bellagio for his signature drink - a Stoli Greyhound. Much to his chagrin (at least chagrin enough to warrant +/- five Twitter postings and an amazed email to me earlier tonight) he noticed that instead of the usual flat $9, the bartender charged him $9.73.

H.H.H. inquired with the bartender, who confirmed that Bellagio's bars started charging sales tax two weeks ago. Or, Bellagio has raised their drink prices by 8.1% - the tax rate in Clark County - you choose how to explain it.

Dumping a massive amount of something into the lake might make a wonderfully patriotic protest.... but what?

Tagged: bellagio   the drink tax   murren   


Comments & Discussion:

At least drinks at the tables are still free.

But yes, this is quite disappointing. Of course, Nevada's state government is bankrupt, so I doubt the tax collection division will show any leniency to a world famous tourist trap like Bellagio.

Studio, it's a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other. Bellagio was paying the taxes to Clark County before this; it was just $8.33 for the drink plus the 8.1% tax included to make $9.00 even, with no tax showing on the receipt because that was all behind the scenes stuff only the bookkeepers had to think about. It is, much like the resort fees, a sneaky way to raise prices without many people giving it a second thought.

Oddly, I'd rather pay $9.75 for the drink with tax included than $9 plus the $.73 tax added to it, but that may be the bartender in me despising having to make change to the penny.

Thanks for the explanation Cosmicjester... this is indeed a secret price hike posing as a tax hike.

Quite despicable and deceptive conduct, I think.

Greedy gubmint revenuers!

Personally I'd prefer just paying more for the drink without the explicit reminder of the tax. It kinda chips away at the "escape from reality" illusion that is such a powerful draw for me when I sit down at a casino bar.

Hunter tweeted that the tax doesn't apply at Fontana. Why are bars treated differetly, and on what basis?
What impact, if any, does charging sales tax on drinks have on MGM's corporate financial reporting? Any CPA's out here?
MGM Grand Detroit has always charged sales tax on all drinks.

With regards to Fontana, the impression I got was simply that they hadn't been in to change the cash registers yet - the bartender told me that they all have to be updated bar by bar.

The reason this pissed me off wasn't the extra charge so much as I really hate getting change back. The last thing I want in Vegas is a pocket full of worthless pennies and nickels.

Just returned from Vegas, and I noticed this trend at most places I went into. I'm just not sure why the casinos don't just round up (that's what I do in my bsr..) I even noticed this at the outside bars on Freemont, I guess the whole town is changing how they collect the taxes.

A few trips back, I started to carry an extra Ziplock bag with me to put change in. No matter how hard you try, you do end up with change. It's amazing how quick you amass change from playing the machines and from making multiple visits a day to the ABC Store. If I'm going to leave coins as part of a tip, it'll be quarters, as anything smaller just seems chintzy to me.

I definitely see this as a price increase, as the increase is coincidentally the same as the tax rate they charge. If it was $9 and the past and is now $9.73, it's a price increase, as they previously bundled the 73 cents into the drink price and now that 73 cents is added to the $9.

I tend to make regular change dumps too, always seem to wind up with a ton in Vegas, throw it in a bag as vespajet does and in the suitcase and in the jar at home until it fills up and gets cashed in for more Vegas bankroll.

As a cash town even without the drink's not rounded I find I wind up with a ton. Although it's another cheap way for MGM to try and improve the bottom line, I will say though that at least they have dropped some of their drink prices then 3 years ago in what we were seeing.

I wonder if they factored in the extra time wasted with bartenders fiddling around with change, and the logistics of the extra demand for coins in the registers? Add up all the extra time bartenders will spend giving change... rather than moving on to the next customer... and in the long run those numbers start to add up. Yea it looks good on paper, but could you have served X number of more people per day, week, etc. would you cut out the additional "change run" the bartender will inevitably have to make upon payment from each customer? It sounds petty, but when you're dealing with the volume they work on that could actually be a legit argument.

talktobrent, I believe you have just made the most salient point here. What a complete waste of human resources. This is what we in my neck of the woods call "penny wise and pound foolish". Unless they're hoping that most people will hand over bills and say "keep the change" because they don't want to deal with coins in their pockets?

Pretty sure this will help the bartenders. If the drink is $8.65 the average Joe is now leaving $1.35 for a tip instead of the $1 he left when the drink was $8 flat. Probably shakes out on both sides of the coin (so to speak), but I'd guess overall it's a benefit. That's the waiter in me speaking- people typically leave the coins.

FWIW, my tips on these drinks went from $2 to $1.75 so in my case, they're actually now getting a smaller tip.

I think it hurts bartenders more than helps. In the above scenario, someone said the bartender would get $1.35 tip on an $8.65 drink, but I think it would the opposite. The customer would feel like they were getting nickel and dimed already, so they would pick up the .35 cents and leave the buck. Or the opposite.

In all the years I poured, I never worked in a place that left the tax added on like that. It was always worked into the price of the drink and rounded up to avoid the time consuming loose change issue.

I think it will hurt the bartenders also. If I am actually going to BUY a drink, then there is no difference to me in 8.75 , 9.00 , or 9.73. I would throw a ten and walk away. The part that bothers me is the question of are we really at the point where we have to treat Vegas like a pro football game, where we pound $ 0.75 beers in the parking lot all morning then maintain that buzz with slow " nursing " on the $8.00 beer inside the stadium? Am I really going to have to keep bottles of Herradura and Stoli in my room ? I fear free drinks at the tables are not dead, but the family and minister have been notified because it is just a matter of time.

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